Sensitive Santa To Greet Children With Special Needs

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OKLAHOMA (KFSM) -- Seeing Santa Claus is usually a fun time for kids to tell him what's on their Christmas list, but that's not always the case. For some children, the big jolly guy with the red bag can be a little overwhelming.

For many children with disabilities, seeing Santa Claus can turn into a bad experience. Kids with sensory processing issues can become timid and shy when they see Saint Nick in a mall or a store, which can cause a meltdown.

A local non-profit is stepping in to help kids have fun this time of the year.

The Pervasive Parenting Center is located in Poteau, Oklahoma. For years, they've offered what they call Sensitive Santa. This allows kids with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the festivities that come with Christmas.

The non-profit organization was started by a family after they found out their son was diagnosed with autism.

During Sensitive Santa, it will be a little darker and quieter than a typical Santa setting. Kids can come up and see him without having to stand in line and wait. "They can come to Santa when they want to on their own leisure," said the Director of the Pervasive Parenting Center, Kodey Toney. "Some of the kids will go straight to Santa, but it's completely up to the kids what they want to do," Toney said.

On Tuesday (Dec. 6), Santa will be at the Kibois Community Action Building in Stigler.

Sensitive Santa will also be at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw on Tuesday (Dec. 13), then at Carl Albert State College in Poteau on Thursday (Dec. 15). These events will begin at 6 p.m. every night.

Organizers recommend to only bring children with disabilities to the events.

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